THE DEBT I OWE MY FATHER

I wrote this letter about my dad. Nothing more needs to be said.
How, and from whom, do boys learn to be men? Or more to the point in today’s world, how SHOULD they? We learn from the media, from schools and other forms of indoctrination, and if we are fortunate, from our fathers. I was fortunate: I learned mostly from my father, Philip no middle name. I learned by example, as do we all, and it was my good fortune to observe dad practice what he would have his boys believe. You expected preach? He didn’t preach, he said little, but did much, and I am that way too. He believed in treating women with respect and affection, though he was inhibited in how openly and often he demonstrated affection.
My dear mother suffered mightily from bipolar psychosis. Her highs were stratospheric and her lows were catastrophic. He never spoke unkindly of her nor to her, nor did he allow the four children do to so, as much as we would have because our family was periodically torn apart. But most of all, he stayed. He worked, he cared for us when she couldn’t and cared for her in the valleys. He didn’t run away or turn to alcohol to ease his pain. He endured, and I am his son. I don’t run, I don’t numb myself, I also endure. Endurance is my dad’s and my signature trait.
He concerned himself with what was right, not popular, as he learned from his parents. I spent a lot of time with his mother, and she became a mother to me too in a lot of ways. She was outspoken before her time, defending minorities and anyone who was disadvantaged. I learned my outspokenness from her, knowing what dad saw as he was growing up. My father’s favorite story about his mother was this one, which he related to his children often and proudly. Their neighborhood had some racial strife, and one time a crowd of her neighbors gathered under her bedroom window, calling her and my grandfather “nigger lovers.” She calmly put the teakettle on, and when the chanting got louder and the water got hotter, she marched to her room, threw open the window, and ordered the crowd to disperse, showing them the pot of hot water. Wisely, most took her advice. Those who didn’t quickly learned that she wasn’t a bluffer. Oh do I miss her.

I learned about standing up for what you believe even when it’s unpopular, even when there is a cost, especially when there’s a cost. Faith grows greater and stronger under persecution than easy times. I occasionally faltered when confronted with animus, when I was young. My dad showed me how to push through fear. One time, a neighborhood kid picked a fight with me, and I beat him. Soon after, he brought his big brother and a baseball bat to teach me a lesson. When I went home sporting a shiner, and told my dad what happened, he took me with him to the bully’s home, and confronted the big brother and the dad. I just wanted it all to go away. But they backed down and I learned to take a stand.
Now I’m older than my dad was at the time, and the lessons remain. For me, that is. The last time I was plagued with the symptoms of so-called low self esteem was my junior year in high school. Fortunately, in those days–1962–self esteem was considered an effect rather than a cause. You are confronted with challenges, you take steps to overcome them and score some victories, you raise your self esteem as an effect of your efforts. Somewhere in time, self esteem got elevated by the therapeutic establishment to the cause of effort, or lack of it, rather than its proper role as the effect of effort. Low self esteem became the explanation for poor effort, performance, morals and appearance. Instead of something to be earned by overcoming obstacles, self esteem became the thing that had to be elevated before you could even try to overcome obstacles.
How does someone build endurance, or strength? You build endurance gradually by aerobic exercise, you build strength by breaking down muscle to build it stronger. Self esteem is no different. You can affirm yourself constantly, and build a feeling of self esteem, but if you fail to rise to challenges, your self esteem will be worse than ever. Instead of “working on your self esteem” (whatever that looks like), develop courage to tackle obstacles. That was my father’s advice to me, and my advice to you.

Transgender and the US military, part deux.

I served in the US Army in Vietnam from October 1969 to October 1970. My job for 10 of those months was officially called psychological technician, but it really was sole psychotherapist and combat fitness evaluator for the 15th Medical Battalion of the 1st Air Cavalry Division in III Corps, Vietnam, which included Quan Loi, Song Be and Tay Ninh surgical field hospitals. My office in the largest of these hospitals–Quan Loi–looked like the photo above. My nearest supervisor, the Division Psychiatrist, was 90 miles away as the chopper flies, through thick jungle, in Phuoc Vinh. He might as well have been on the moon. For practical purposes, I was alone with my life and death decisions. At age 23!

Since I evaluated hundreds of soldiers during that year for their mental stability, emotional fitness for combat, drug and alcohol use and abuse, I can speak authoritatively on what it takes emotionally to be an effective soldier. The first principle is simple: combat and deployment to hostile overseas territory does not cause mental illness; it magnifies and multiplies whatever mental illness and instability is already there. Every soldier/patient I saw in a year who had mental and emotional problems, had them before ever reaching Vietnam. 

So called gender dysphoria–confusion about what gender you are–let alone taking the radical step of gender change surgery or drugs, is a profound mental and emotional illness,  even if no other symptoms are present. Only the willful blindness of political correctness can fail to realize that  truth. When combat and deployment magnify that illness and it’s attendant emotions, it cannot be good for combat fitness.

The U.S. military needs to be the best in the world, since without the U.S. there is no other effective bulwark against oppression and totalitarianism. This editorial from National Review should put the argument to rest for all but the most hardcore and softheaded liberal n.r. military fitness